Drafting the Climax

Drafting the Climax
LEAD

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- With a gritty performance in the national semifinal, the Sabercats have created the opportunity to capture the program's first-ever NCCAA DII national championship.

Goals from Taylor Moses and Alexis Sponable were the sparks that started the fire, as the Sabercats topped Toccoa Falls College 2-1 to set up a chance at the title.

OVERVIEW

  • Result: #1 Maranatha 2-1 #4 Toccoa Falls
  • Venue: Austin-Tindall Sports Complex
  • Location: Kissimmee, Fla.
  • Event: NCCAA DII National Tournament
  • Attendance: 83
  • Record: MBU (5-5-1), TFC (2-9-0)

STORY

This one had a nervy opening, as both teams were well aware of the significance of the occasion. Just five minutes in, disaster almost struck for the Sabercats when the Screaming Eagles earned a penalty kick. If there was ever a reason to worry, this was it.

But rising to the occasion was Trisha Wright, who got down quickly to her left to deny the attempt and negate the Screaming Eagles' resolve to get out ahead. The Sabercats would ride the momentum of Wright's big save, creating pressure at the other end of the field. Just eight minutes later, Moses found space behind Randall's back line, set herself up for a shot inside the box, and finished her opportunity with aplomb into the bottom-left corner. The Sabercats had the opening goal of the tournament, and the Screaming Eagles were silenced.

Moses' goal was both an energizer and a tranquilizer, as the Sabercats settled into a rhythm and kept the ball on the Screaming Eagles' half for the next 20 minutes. But against the run of play, TFC's Mabel Kerchmar clipped a sot from 25 yards that looped through the breeze and into the upper corner. 

Going into halftime, the game was tied at one.

Right away in the second half, the Sabercats looked like they would eventually win the game. Hannah Evans seemed to be everywhere at once defensively, as she shut down some of Toccoa Falls' most creative midfield players. Evans' defensive work helped shift the momentum, and after Alexis Sponable just missed a chance at the other end, the decisive moment of the match came.

As anyone could've guessed, it was Sponable that scored the game-winner. After collecting the ball at the left corner of the box, Sponable cut into the middle before firing low and hard to the bottom-left corner. The senior had made her mark, and the Sabercats had the lead they were chasing.

From there until the end of the game, the Sabercats had to rely on Wright more times than they would've liked. The senior made three saves in the final 15 minutes to seal the win.

The scariest moment came in the 85th minute, when Toccoa Falls earned a free kick just 20 yards away from the Sabercats' goal - prime shooting territory. But Wright was perfectly placed, collecting the shot to silence their hopes at victory.

At the end of 90 minutes, the Sabercats had fought through the nerves and Toccoa Falls, punching their ticket to the 2020 NCCAA DII National Championship.

--

MBU Starters: 0- Wright, 2- Willette, 6- Montgomery, 7- Evans (C), 8- Bishop, 13- Bagin (C), 14- Sponable (C), 15- Massey, 17- Moses, 19- Steuerwald, 20- Hassenplug

SOUND BITE

"I don't really know what to say or think," said Alexis Sponable after the game. "It was just a great team effort all around - we really wanted it. Like I said yesterday, we needed to be determined to win the game and we were very determined. We created a lot of chances and thankfully we put two in the net."

STATS

  • Shot count: Maranatha 15-10 Toccoa Falls
  • Moses: 7th goal this season
  • Sponable: 11th goal of the season; 58th career goal
  • Wright: 8 saves in the win
  • Last time: Toccoa Falls won 2-1 at Nationals in 2009
  • Series: Maranatha now leads the all-time series 1-1-0

OPPONENTS

  • Toccoa Falls won the 2020 NCCAA DII South Region Tournament
  • Toccoa Falls' last appearance at Nationals was in 2010 

NEXT

The Sabercats will compete with #3 Randall University for the NCCAA DII national title at 3:00 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. Find details at mbusabercats.com.

More for Moses
November 23, 2020 More for Moses
History Written
November 21, 2020 History Written
Climax Close-Up
November 20, 2020 Climax Close-Up
Drafting the Climax
November 19, 2020 Drafting the Climax
Rewrite the Script
November 18, 2020 Rewrite the Script
Nationals In Focus
November 18, 2020 Nationals In Focus
Top Seed for the Tournament
November 7, 2020 Top Seed for the Tournament
Back on Top
November 7, 2020 Back on Top
The Best in the North
November 6, 2020 The Best in the North
Eligibility Extended
October 29, 2020 Eligibility Extended
Parents' Day Cancelled
October 28, 2020 Parents' Day Cancelled
Regional Faceoff
October 23, 2020 Regional Faceoff
Loss in La Crosse
October 22, 2020 Loss in La Crosse
Rivalry Reversal
October 10, 2020 Rivalry Reversal
Sponnie for Three
October 5, 2020 Sponnie for Three
Sponnie Strikes Again
October 3, 2020 Sponnie Strikes Again
Sponnie Sets the Record
October 2, 2020 Sponnie Sets the Record
Sponnie Starts it Off
October 1, 2020 Sponnie Starts it Off
A Fight to the Finish
September 29, 2020 A Fight to the Finish
Trine, Trine Again
September 26, 2020 Trine, Trine Again
Round Two
September 21, 2020 Round Two
Hit for Six
September 19, 2020 Hit for Six
Twin City Shuffle
September 17, 2020 Twin City Shuffle
Two for the Show
September 14, 2020 Two for the Show
All Smiles
September 10, 2020 All Smiles
Nostalgia and "Normality"
August 31, 2020 Nostalgia and "Normality"
Fall Schedule Updates
July 27, 2020 Fall Schedule Updates
Hosting Hopes
June 19, 2020 Hosting Hopes
Back to Business
June 17, 2020 Back to Business